U.S. investigators reportedly interview anti-doping officials

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LYON, France | U.S. investigators interviewed French anti-doping officials at Interpol headquarters Tuesday as part of a probe into allegations of drug use by cyclists, including Lance Armstrong, a French official told The Associated Press.

The investigation shifted its focus to France, with an American delegation seeking information from police officials and the national anti-doping agency (AFLD) that has stored some of Armstrong’s samples from the Tour de France. Armstrong won cycling’s storied race seven straight times, from 1999 to 2005.

Francoise Lasne, director of the AFLD lab, and testing director Jean-Pierre Verdy were heard as witnesses Tuesday at Interpol, an official with knowledge of the meeting told the AP. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the case.

Interpol, the international police agency, is acting an intermediary between the U.S. and French officials.

Before the meeting, a French official said the AFLD would make its information available to the Americans. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the meeting.

He said the agency would share “everything we know, everything we have, in the fridges, in the freezers, everything, everywhere” and is prepared to answer “everything that they ask.”

The U.S. probe is being conducted by U.S. Food and Drug Administration Agent Jeff Novitzky and others. Approached in the lobby of his hotel, Novitzky declined comment. The French official said he believed the American delegation also included U.S. federal prosecutor Doug Miller and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.

Miller had been booked at the same hotel as Novitzky, but canceled the reservation. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. His office voicemail said he would be out of the country from Monday to Thursday. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined comment.

Reached by e-mail, Tygart declined comment. In a recorded phone message at USADA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tygart said he was out of the office on business.

French police officials whose job it is to investigate sports doping in France are also meeting later this week with the Americans, a senior police official said Tuesday. That official spoke on condition that he not be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.

The meeting will also be in Lyon, the south-central city where Interpol is located, and was organized through the police agency, the official said. He said he expects the meeting would cover, among other subjects, disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis’ allegations that Armstrong and members of his former U.S. Postal team systematically doped.

The police officials work for a French agency that, separately, has also been investigating syringes and transfusion equipment found in a trash container after the 2009 Tour de France that French officials say belonged to the Astana cycling team that included Armstrong and Tour winner Alberto Contador.

The American, who retired in ‘05 before coming back for the ‘09 and ‘10 Tours, has repeatedly denied allegations he took performance-enhancing drugs.

The former head of the French agency, Pierre Bordry, previously promised to hand over Armstrong’s samples from the 1999 Tour de France to Novitzky if the agent makes an official request. Bordry announced his resignation this September after battling with French authorities over the budget for the doping agency.

“The samples were clean when originally provided and tested. So we have nothing to be concerned about. Period,” Mark Fabiani, an attorney for Armstrong, said in a statement sent to the AP on Tuesday.

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